Keynote Speaker


Avis Yates Rivers

Advocate, Speaker, Author
President and CEO of Technology Concepts Group International, LLC



Avis Yates Rivers is the President and CEO of Technology Concepts Group International, LLC. (TCGi), a global asset, expense and procurement management firm. She possesses more than 35 years of general management experience in the information technology industry and has been a successful tech entrepreneur for over 30 years.

At a young age, Avis demonstrated the unique ability to envision possibilities and recognize opportunities. She credits growing up with five siblings in New York City as an important period in her life that prepared her well for the challenges that lie ahead. Her mother and father were both blue-collar, hard-working parents that instilled the benefits of learning and caring about their community. Avis remembers how her father always took classes to expand his mind and improving his station in life, encouraging and inspiring Avis to do the same. Every family lesson paid off.

Prior to establishing her first company in 1985, Ms. Yates Rivers enjoyed an 11-year career at Exxon Corporation and its subsidiaries. She rose to the rank of Account Executive as a result of successfully marketing a line of early technology products from Exxon Office Systems Company in New York City. When Exxon sold the Office Systems Division, Avis decided to branch out on her own, which led to the founding of her first company. She went on to found several firms over the years, culminating with Technology Concepts Group International, LLC (TCGi). With its innovative supply chain solutions, TCGi specializes in reducing the cost of IT Asset Management, IT Procurement Management and Tail Spend Management. Through its Equipment Financing Division, TCGi delivers flexible payment options to its valuable customers. January 2015 marked her 30th anniversary of business ownership.

A strong believer in the late Shirley Chisholm’s ideal that “service is the rent you pay for the privilege of living on this earth,” Avis subscribes to both the principles and the practice of being ‘in service.’ She is a long-time advocate for the increased utilization of minority and women-owned businesses, and has served in many leadership positions in national organizations such as NMSDC and WBENC. She is also a change agent for increasing the meaningful participation of women and people of color in technology as a member of the Board of Directors and ‘Sit With Me’ Spokesperson of the National Center for Women and Information Technology.

Her many accolades include Entrepreneur of the Year, Woman of Distinction, the Shirley Chisholm Award for Business, Top 10 Women in Technology and Top 25 Leading Women Entrepreneurs & Business Owners, along with her White House Champion of Change in STEM honor awarded by President Barack Obama.

She is a nationally recognized thought-leader and in-demand global speaker. Her first book, ‘Necessary Inclusion: Embracing the Changing Faces of Technology’, was launched in December 2016.

Eden-Reneé Hayes, Ph.D.

Dean of Diversity and Inclusion
Associate Professor



Dr. Hayes is presently the Dean of Equity and Inclusion and Associate Professor at Bard College at Simon’s Rock, an early college in Massachusetts. As the Dean of Equity and Inclusion, Dr. Hayes is responsible for leading related initiatives across the college and plays a critical role in advising the departments and administration. An expert in the social psychological factors related to bias, and the intersecting identities of race, class, and gender, she has presented papers on her research at a number of conferences including The American Psychological Association, The International Convention of Psychological Science, and The Society for the Psychological Study of Social Issues. Dr. Hayes also serves on the Board of Directors for several organizations focused on diversity and inclusion and is the former Board President of Multicultural BRIDGE. With Multicultural BRIDGE, Dr. Hayes assists in designing and conducting cultural competency trainings for various sectors and statistically analyzes the impact of these trainings. Dr. Hayes earned a bachelors degree from Wesleyan University and earned a MS and Ph.D. from Tulane University before being awarded a National Science Foundation postdoctoral fellowship to research at The Pennsylvania State University.

Gary Minkoff

Instructor of Professional Practice
Management & Global Business
M.B.A., F.W. Olin Graduate School of Business



Gary’s serves as a full-time Instructor of Professional Practice at Rutgers Business School, where he teaches various courses in Entrepreneurship. His teaching is informed by his extensive professional and practical experience in 4 key economic sectors: Private, Not for Profit, Education and Public. Gary is a Co-Founder and Chief Operating Officer of Pre-D Partners, a startup dietary supplement company marketing products under the mitoMANAGETM brand. Additionally, he is a Principal and Co-Founder of BioDev, a life sciences technology strategy, licensing and development company.

Since 1997, Gary has been President of Above & Beyond Marketing; a consulting firm specializing in sales and marketing strategy, technology, education and training and communications. The firm’s focus is on entrepreneurial organizations with revenue ranging from ~ $1 million-$500 million+.

Gary has led 2 non-profits; he was the Executive Director of the NJ Higher Education Partnership for Sustainability, a consortium that advocates for sustainable policies and practices in the NJ Higher Ed community. Prior to that, he was the Executive Director of the Cabletelevision Advertising Association of NY, a media sales trade association.

Before founding Above & Beyond Marketing, Gary worked for 12 years in financial services as a financial advisor with Smith Barney-and later with Merrill Lynch, providing affluent individuals and institutions with investment strategy and portfolio management advice. He began his career in finance with Citicorp’s (now Citigroup) Investment Bank Operations Management Training program, working in Municipal and Corporate Finance, as well as Sales and Marketing Operations. He began his professional career in consulting, working with a range of major corporations on a variety large-scale marketing and technology projects.

From January 2012-June 2014, Gary served as the Mayor of Highland Park NJ, a community of ~ 14,000 people; from 2002, he was a member of the Borough Council; his roles including Chairing the Governing Body’s Finance, Economic Development and Public Works Committees.

Gary received the “Outstanding Workshop Presentation in Entrepreneurship Pedagogy” award for Developing a Failure in Order to Succeed Mindset in Entrepreneurship Education at USASBE (US Association of Small Businesses and Entrepreneurs) 2015. He has been a panelist at the Rutgers Workshop on Social Innovation, sponsored by the National Science Foundation, and served as Moderator/panelist for New Jersey’s first Chief Sustainability Officers’ Summit-Visioning for Accelerated Impact. He has been a Judge for the Cabletelevision Advertising Bureau’s Creative Showcase Awards and Desafio Intel’s Tech Entrepreneurship competition.

He is a member of the Global Advisory Board for the Center for Leadership and Management-the Rutgers School of Social Work and is a Member of the Rutgers-New Brunswick Small Business Development Center Advisory Board
Gary is an honorary faculty brother of the Omicron Tau Chapter of Alpha Kappa Psi, the Professional Business Fraternity. Gary earned his MBA as a Magna Cum Laude graduate of the F.W. Olin Graduate School of Business at Babson College and his undergraduate degree from Rutgers College in Communication and Information Studies.

Other items to note:
Gary teaches courses at Rutgers—Intro to Entrepreneurship, Managing Growing Ventures, Technology Ventures, as well as, Marketing for Entrepreneurs & Small Business. He has also taught a course called Business, Government and Society (now called Ethics in Business-which is a course on Ethics/Corporate Social Responsbility.
Gary is now the Chair of the Small Business Development Center Advisory Board.
Gary has also served as a Judge at competitions:
Judge-1st, 2nd and 3rd Annual CAB Creative Showcase Awards, Cabletelevision Advertising Bureau
Judge- 30th Annual CAB Cable Advertising Awards, Cabletelevision Advertising Bureau
Judge-Startup Chile entrepreneurship competition-
Judge: Verizon Powerful Ideas/Million Dollar Challenge
Judge: Nicholson Foundation/Rutgers Healthcare Delivery Challenge
Judge-Desafio Intel Tech entrepreneurship competition
And Gary has also mentored a large number of entrepreneurs at various stages of business development—and assisted a number of them in securing capital in various rounds of investment/stages in the business life cycle.